This is the sort of morning when I know I'm not even going to come close to writing down all the shit in my head. But. We had an extra-large Kid Night last night. We got pizza from Fellini's, then watched Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt. I can't believed this film was so poorly received; it only has a 4.9 at IMDb. It isn't Apocalypse Now (though there is a very funny Apocalypse Now reference). I think it was a nice bit of whimsy, charming, and if I have any particular complaint it was probably that the ending felt a little clipped. It's weird, and it's sweet. With Edgar Allan Poe talking about parrots. Then we watched Devil (2010). On paper, onscreen, this might be a film directed by John Erick Dowdle. In truth, it's an M. Night Shyamalan film (Shyamalan produced and wrote the film), and only someone whose never seen a Shyamalan could mistake it for anything else. Except perhaps an Alfred Hitchcock film. Shyamalan's fascination with Hitchcock has never been more in evidence. I think he used Dowdle as a sock puppet. Anyway, we liked it. I found it tense and terrifying. It is, in some ways, essentially a remake of Lifeboat (1944), set in an elevator. Now, keep in mind that I am a mostly tireless defender of Shyamalan, but if he could have gone directly from The Village (2004) to Devil (minus sock-puppet Dowdle), his career and reputation would not be such a shambles. Anyway, we followed that with the season premiere of The Walking Dead (yes!), and then the first episode of Dead Like Me (because it's been a couple of years since the second or third time we watched the series start to finish).
Walking the streets of New York City, I was amazed and baffled and somewhat horrified at the percentage of people strolling blithely along with their attention on their "mobile devices." At least a third, minimum, in any crowd, at any given time. When and how did this happen? And I had two thoughts that I paused to write down (pencil, paper):
~ How can there be a future when all moments are compacted into the present?
~ In a state of perpetual communication, how can there be reflection?
This morning, I found myself wishing I'd taken better (and more) photographs of The Jane. And, also, this is one of those entries that was clear in my head last night, all of a piece, eloquent, blah, blah, blah, and which I awoke to find in tatters. That said, there are more photos below, all of the hotel. The architect who redesigned the hotel (until recently it was a Very Scary Flophouse) said that he meant it to have a "Royal Tenenbaum feel," and it does, which is one reason I adore it. I feel even less like writing a travelogue than I did yesterday. Oh...and you should be warned about the extreme candor of the very last photo. Think of it as the author commentating on her current opinion of herself. Or take it as something else entirely. But I am compelled to include it.
The Jane (redbrick, to the right), as seen from Pier 51/Hudson River; view to the east. The hotel was built between 1906 and 1908 by the American Seamen's Friend Society Sailors' Home and Institute, "a hotel for sailors built in 1906-08 and designed by William A. Boring in Georgian style. The building featured a chapel, a concert hall, and a bowling alley, and a beacon which played over the river from the polygonal observatory. The hotel was used to house survivors of the RMS Titanic while the American inquest into the sinking was held.
This should have been a very nice photo. I thought it was, which is what I get for trusting those display screen thingies. Anyway, here you go. The world without my glasses. View to the northeast.
The lobby, Wednesday night.
I was helpless not to be reminded of Hannibal by the antlers and stag heads.
If only this fountain were still running.
Detail of the fountain.
Another stag head, above the fountain.
I'm a suckered for green ceramic tile.
There was this marvelous old safe in the lobby. I believe the flowers painted on the insides of the doors say a lot about the disintegration of culture...
...because who now would give enough of a shit to hand paint flowers on the inside (or outside) of the doors of safe? Why would they? "How is that practical?" they would ask. "Who cares?" they would ask, having missed the point entirely.
The hallways were, at most, four feet wide. Keep in mind, this hotel was designed as a home for sailors while they were docked, and it was designed after a ship. Oh, communal, coed bathrooms in the halls, two to a floor. It seemed as if most of the other guests were either German, Dutch, or French. Which makes sense, as there is a very European sensibility about the Jane.
The rooms are 50 sq. feet, and I found ours too frustrating to get a good photo. But there are good photos online. A double room is accomplished with an upper and lower berth.
The Jane offers corked (glass!) bottles of water in the room. Bottled at the source, the source being the tap. Just like most bottled water.
Downstairs, there is a café, good food, reasonable prices. We had breakfast there on Thursday. I do not know why there's an alligator ion the wall, but I like that alligator.
I don't know why this makes me melancholy.
We found this entirely bizarre little diorama in the café's restroom, set into the wall immediately above the toilet.
And speaking of the toilet, I call this "Portrait of the Artist as a Double Amputee Taking a Leak."
All photographs Copyright © 2013 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac